A Close Look at the Technology behind Modern Elevators

Today is a great day to be alive. Sure, the world has its challenges, but the advantages far, far outweigh any drawbacks to modern life. And, if you’re disabled or struggling with compromised mobility, you have more options and more solutions available to help you than ever before.

One mobility solution that’s becoming more and more accessible is the home elevator. Not long ago, the high price of home elevators meant that very few homeowners were able to install them. But new technology advances have reduced the space requirements and the cost of home elevators, which means that if you’re struggling with moving between floors in your home, an elevator just might be in your future.

Modern Elevators Company in Louisiana

Four Technologies

Home lifts come in basically four technologies. Some elevator companies in Louisiana specialize in just one technology, while others offer models in all four options. The mobility experts at Stairlifts of Louisiana will explain your options and help you determine which is best for your home, but here’s a brief introduction to each of the four technologies available:


Traction-style elevators use the oldest, most common elevator technology: a cable, a pulley, and a counterweight. In a traction elevator, the cab is lifted by steel ropes that roll over a grooved pulley, called a sheave. The cab is balanced by a counterweight. It operates a bit like a seesaw, where the action of the shifting weight creates the ascending or descending motion. In a traction system, there are no fluids required to power the system, just electricity to run the motor.

Many home traction elevators do not require a separate machine room; when you see the MRL (machine room less) designation, you’ll know that the traction elevator and all its components are housed within the shaft. This saves cost and space during the installation.

Traction elevators are typically housed in a closet or custom shaft where they can be inconspicuous. These cabs are fully enclosed and won’t feature glass walls or other design features.


Hydraulic elevators use a piston and pump system for operation. When you call the elevator to ascend, the hydraulic system pushes pressurized fluid into a cylinder that, in turn, moves the piston that’s attached to the elevator. For descension, the piston is moved when fluid is moved back into the reservoir. The result is a smooth, quiet ride.

Hydraulic elevators require a separate space to house the hydraulics. This has pros and cons. On the negative side, a machine room does take up more space in your home, but, on the plus side, the cab itself takes up less room. If you have low ceilings, the fact that hydraulic cabs don’t need extra headroom can be a game changer.

Hydraulic elevators don’t need a concrete shaft; you can place these lifts anywhere. They can have glass walls on three sides and can be an attractive design feature in any home.


Vacuum elevators, also known as pneumatic elevators, move passengers from floor to floor using air pressure. A vacuum elevator has three main components: a cylinder, the head unit, and the car. The cylinder is the tube through which the car travels. It’s built with an aluminum frame and polycarbonate panels. The head unit contains the controller and the turbines. It can be placed at the top of the cylinder or in the attic or a closet. To lift the car, powerful pumps reduce the air pressure above the car; as long as the air pressure above the car is lower than the pressure below the car, the car will move upwards. When the car reaches its destination, the pressures are equalized and the car stops. When it’s time to descend, the process is reversed.

Vacuum elevators don’t require an elevator shaft; instead, these self-contained units rest on the ground floor of your home. Vacuum elevators can be very compact; the smallest models require only a 32-inch diameter through hole in the floor. They offer panoramic glass walls on all sides for clear views all around.

Winding Drum

The winding drum system, sometimes known as a screw system, is popular for home elevators. In this system, an electric motor and gearbox located at the top of the car are attached to cables that lift the car. The gearbox is attached to drums that are on an axle. As the drums wind and unwind the cables, the cab lifts and lowers.

Winding drum elevators are space savers; they do not require separate machine rooms, extensive head room, or deep pits. Screw lifts can be designed with glass on all walls. They are quiet to operate and require the least amount of energy to run of all the elevator options.

Trust Stairlifts of Louisiana

Trust Stairlifts of Louisiana for residential elevators and all your mobility needs. We carry a wide range of mobility solutions including stair lifts, elevators, and auto lifts in Louisiana. Call to speak with one of our mobility solution experts today to see how we can help you travel more freely.